"Never Forget" Nanjing Exhibit in San Francisco

Under the theme "Never Forget," an exhibition of Historical Facts of the Nanjing (Nanking) Massacre is on display through December 19 in St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco.

The exhibit includes pictures, written materials and films supplied by a group of Chinese survivors, Westerners and Japanese living in Nanjing at the time.

Thanks to John Magee's film and the wartime diaries of John Rabe, Minnic Vautrin and George Fitch in particular, the exhibition gives a true account of Japanese troops' atrocities.

It also details the joint efforts of the Chinese survivors and Westerners to help more than 200,000 Chinese civilians survive those tough months.

Japanese troops marched into Nanjing, the then capital of China, on December 13, 1937, and the slaughter began.

A. T. Steel, a Chicago Daily News reporter, wrote that "Days of Hell" would be the most fitting way to describe the siege of Nanjing.

Sasaki Itakazu, brigade commander of the 30th Brigade of the 16th Japanese Army Division, exposed the violence upon the Chinese in An Autobiography of a Soldier, which also is on display.

According to excerpts from the Verdict of International Military Tribunal of the Far East on November 4, 1948, 200,000 civilians and prisoners of war were murdered in Nanjing and the vicinity during the first six weeks of the Japanese occupation.

The figure does not include those victims whose bodies were destroyed by burning, thrown into the Yangtze River or otherwise disposed of by the Japanese.

And about 20,000 rapes occurred within the city, where two-thirds of the buildings were burned down.

On January 17, 1938, the Japanese foreign minister telegraphed the Japanese ambassador in the United States, saying: "The Japanese have received the report that Japanese troops killed more than 300,000 Chinese civilians."

The original copy is in the Washington National Archives.

With the Japanese invaders approaching, most foreign nationals ran away.

But 20 Americans and Germans stayed behind to set up an international relief organization - the Nanking International Safety Zone Committee - to shelter homeless Chinese.

According to the war diary belonging to Rabe, the committee director at the time, the number of refugees in the Safety Zone was estimated at 250,000.

Xia Shuqin and Luo Zhongyang were saved by the Safety Zone Committee.

Xia is now 72. Aged 8, she lost seven members of her family in the massacre. Xia has been invited to San Francisco to share her sorrow-filled memories.

The exhibition is jointly organized by the Memorial Hall to the Victims of Nanjing Massacre, the Bay Area Chinese Holocaust Museum in San Francisco and St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco.

Zhu Chengshan, director of the Memorial Hall to the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre, said the historical facts were gathered with the aim to remember history, promote justice and call for world peace and a brighter future.

Richard Chu, a former president of the Global Alliance for Preserving the True History of World War II in Asia, agreed.

He said the exhibition, coinciding with the 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbour, is meant to remind people the atrocity should never be repeated.

The exhibition also is designed to make the American public aware of the Nanjing Massacre, the infamous Unit 731 that conducted gruesome experiment on prisoners alive and comfort women.

Chu said the history should be included in the American educational curriculum.

"We should know what the road blocks are to achieving permanent peace in East Asia," Chu said. "Then, we can move closer to removing those obstacles and seek lasting peace in Asia and the rest of the world."

(China Daily December 17, 2001)

In This Series

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